Archive - Oct 7, 2005

One Twanger, Effectively Plucked

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It's that time of year again, when the video game companies begin to trot out their wares for the holiday season. Every year, certain patterns hold true. World War II games, tactical shooters, tactical shooters set in World War II, and all the games you loved last year turned into racing games. And lots and lots of bad ideas. And since there are bad ideas, and it is Friday, that means it's time for another BAD IDEA FRIDAY!

THE IMPERFECTS. - The name itself is almost a cop-out. "Of course they suck! They're the IMPERFECTS! The Imperfects are the co-stars of "Marvel Nemesis: Rise Of The Imperfects", a fighting game in which the classic Marvel superheroes do battle against a handful of characters that EA designed, as far as I can tell, by spending half an hour at Hot Topic with a sketch pad and a Mountain Dew. Every last one of them is a BAD IDEA.

There's Brigade, the shirtless military guy! Fault Zone, the black-lingerie-wearing chick! Hazmat, who's shirtless and green! Paragon, the black-skintight-armor-wearing-chick! Solara, the RED-skintight-armor-wearing-chick! The Wink, the... OTHER-black-lingerie-wearing-chick! And, of course, Johnny Ohm.

Johnny Ohm is the worst idea in a string of bad ideas. He's shirtless, like the other guys, and he's bald, and has goggles, and electrical powers of a sort, and is named JOHNNY OHM. And says "Here's Johnny" a lot. It's like they shoved a D-cell up Scott Stapp's ass, shaved his head, and tried to convince you he could beat Spider-Man in a straight-up fight. Nobody's buyin' that. And with luck, nobody's buyin' Rise Of The Imperfects.

FROGGER. It's like clockwork. Every year, Konami tries to remind us that it had a classic game around the time of Pac-Man. That game? Frogger. And as is the custom these days, Konami keeps trying to reinvent Frogger for the modern, 3-D generation. It's a BAD IDEA.

They've given him eyes. They've given him sidekicks. They've given him the ability to walk around in 3-D. They've given him pastoral landscapes, insipid storylines, and gold coins. They've given him sucky game after sucky game after sucky, sucky game. It's sad. It's like seeing the girl you liked in fifth grade turning tricks on the street-corner for crystal meth.

In addition to sucking, all these games have one other thing in common, something I think is crucial to their failure. These games have no cars. Frogger is not about the frog. Nobody played Frogger to follow the Campbellian twists of the frog's journey. They played the game because when they fucked up, a frog got run over by a car, and frogs getting run over by cars is funny.

When it comes time to remake Frogger again next year, I beg you, Konami, do not give the frog annoying friends who get brain-controlled by the evil electronic helmets of a nasty crocodile. Nobody wants that. Nobody likes that. Bring back the cars.

Imagine, if you will, a modern Frogger where you are a frog. A frog-sized frog in one of those living, breathing, immersive, fully-mapped and modeled cities they love putting in every other fucking game on the planet. The cars are giant, you are small, and you have to, and I know this is going to sound insane in a Frogger game, but you have to CROSS THE MOTHERFUCKING ROAD.

Hell, put the thing online, and put people behind the wheels of the cars. Hundreds of frogs crossing hundreds of streets dodging hundreds of cars! No disappearing platforms, no fucking lava levels, no pals, no bosses, no extra lives. Frogs. Cars. Then you'll have a game Buckner and Garcia can get excited about. Not a big steaming pile of BAD IDEA.